“You don’t need more time in your day. You need to decide.” – Seth Godin
Every e-commerce entrepreneur is in a constant battle with time. It feels like you’re constantly fighting to jam more hours onto the clock. You’re pulled in one hundred different directions to keep your business afloat, let alone finding time to grow and scale your company.
When you’re not growing, you’re on the path to failure. That’s the main reason a online businesses falter eventually. E-commerce owners focus too much on the day-to-day tasks, trying to race the clock to get it all done without considering how work can be streamlined and made more efficient.
It’s time to work smarter, not harder. The store owners who see success are the ones that look at their schedule and see time to grow their business big-picture without handling the minutia of the business.
Let’s focus on the key steps you can take to maximize your time, delegate effectively, and put your business on a path of upward trajectory.
1. Manage Your Schedule
You don’t have a boss telling you when you need to be at work or what you need to be working on. There’s no one standing behind you telling you to stay focused.
Your boss is you—and a million other things going on around your base of operations (this may even be your home). Your kids might have pressing matters. Your dog needs to go out. Your supply chain partners are blowing up your phone. You’ve got so much going on around you, and you have to keep yourself accountable.
How you personally manage your schedule will determine how well you’re running your business. If you’re not devoting time to your business, it simply can’t grow.
It’s critical to find ways to cut the noise, manage your schedule, and control your time.
There are time management tools and strategies out there that you can try on for size. You have to find what works for you. There’s Rapid Planning Method (RPM), time chunking, Pomodoro method, and rule of 52/17 to name a few. Learn more about these time management techniques here.
There are also apps to help keep you on track. If you tend to get distracted, SelfControl helps you block websites during specific times of the day.
One of the easiest ways to manage your time is to create a to-do list. Every night before bed, think about what you would like to accomplish the next day. And at the end of every week, consider what your goals and tasks for the following week will be. This can help you stay organized while clearing your mind from stressing about what you need to get done.
Wunderlist is a great app that helps you prioritize tasks, set reminders, and manage multiple projects. You can even share your to-do list with others or assign tasks, which works great for e-commerce teams.
There’s no cookie cutter solution to time management because everyone works differently. But you need to find something that will work for you to focus on work while working and personal while “off the clock.”
2. Delegate and Automate
You need to spend time on your business, but you don’t want your life to become your business. While you’re in the process of managing your schedule, let’s take a few things off your plate.
Stop doing all of the operations yourself. It’s exhausting you, filling up your schedule, and pulling away from the high-level business processes that actually need to be accomplished. Your time is precious, so outsourcing tasks can free up your schedule to focus where it actually matters most. (Plus, it gives you more time to remove yourself from the business so you can have the work-life balance you desire, which will make time management even easier.)
Which processes should you delegate and automate, and how can you go about doing this?
All that “extra” stuff takes up a lot of time, doesn’t it? The paperwork, emails, and small little tasks can really fill up your time. Hire a credible virtual assistant. You can hire a VA for a low price a few hours a week, and they’ll accomplish just about any tasks that need to get done. They can send out emails under your name, book appointments, answer calls, manage files, transcribe video and audio, create basic reports, recruit new hires, answer customer service requests, and much more.
If you feel like your day is “wasted” on tasks that aren’t advancing your business forward, you’ll definitely want to consider hiring a virtual assistant. Check out this article to see the types of virtual assistants you can pull on your team, including a business manager, inventory manager, and graphic designer.
Where should you be focusing your talents and efforts as the e-commerce owner?
- Hiring talent to grow your business
- Product research and development
- Marketing and advertising efforts
- Brand construction and promotion
- Partnerships and affiliates
- Market expansion, especially foreign expansion
You went into business for yourself to be a leader. You want to focus on creative, high-level thinking. You want to be an owner of your business, not an operator. Everything else should be outsourced.
3. Streamline Processes
Every part of your business can be streamlined if you find the right software or employee. If you want to scale, you can’t (and shouldn’t) do it all yourself. Optimizing operations is the key to driving your business forward.
What are some software and companies you can look into to start streamlining your business operations?
Inventory management: Skubana
Business process management: Asana
Marketing management: Seller’s Choice
Seller’s Choice is the number one solution for marketing and advertising your e-commerce business. Marketing is the most important part of your business. If people don’t know about you or aren’t sold on your product, you won’t see any sales. Seller’s Choice takes a customized approach to your business, so you’ll see the results of a human-based organization with the feel and ease of streamlined and automated solutions.
You might also want to consider hiring individuals to manage these different departments as well. A lot of these software programs are made to track and analyze data, but not run the process itself.
You should also look into the services and offerings of your e-commerce platform. Amazon, for example, offers FBA for logistics and customer service. Shopify has a lot of integrations and partners to track and analyze all of your data in one spot.
Remember the goal is to simplify and consolidate all of your processes.
4. Track Your Expenses
Finances are usually the biggest stressor for e-commerce business owners. Managing the books take up a lot of time and energy, and it requires a lot of unique knowledge and know-how.
An automated bookkeeping system will help you stay organized, track your finances, and keep you “in the green.”
QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting apps for small businesses. It handles your accounting for you and makes it easy to input receipts and expenses. It also integrates with banks, payment systems, and credit cards to make it even easier. They also offer invoicing systems, tracking, direct deposit, and more—so all of your business finances are in one spot. It’s easy to use on desktop and mobile, so you can always track and analyze your finances no matter where you are.
Xero is another popular solution. It’s really easy to use and doesn’t require any accounting knowledge. Plus, it has an open API, so you’re always gaining access to better solutions for inventory management, sales tax compliances, and bookkeeping.
Time management isn’t actually about managing your time. It boils down to freeing up your time by delegating tasks and processes. Hiring VAs or managers, implementing software, and leveraging apps all help track and analyze your data, so you can focus on big-picture planning.
It’s time to work on your business, not in it. This week, take time to plan your outsourcing and delegate roles. We guarantee you’ll see a freer schedule in less than a month.
Want more on scaling your e-commerce business with automation and VAs? Check out our fan-favorite webinar for free here!
Do you feel like you have enough time to get all of your business tasks accomplished—and accomplished well? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.